Château de Rouillac - A Rising Star of the Pessac-Léognan Appellation

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This article by Jonathan Choukroun Chicheportiche is a participant in the 2014 Guest Bloggers Program sponsored by the Great Wine Capitals Global Network.

All the photographs of Château de Rouillac-Pessac-Léognan are from the author.

The Rouillac property is a former noble land donated by the King of France to one of its advisers. It was bequeathed by him to Jean de Martigny in 1698. At that time the property was spread over 330 hectares. Throughout its history Rouillac belonged to multiple owners whose most famous was the Baron Haussmann who acquired the property in 1864.

The latter are made numerous restoration and construction, eg stables. He also built a long way between the Château de Rouillac and the Château Lapelette (Cestas) which allowed him to see Rouillac from the front porch of Lapelette. A few years later he sold the property to go full time living in Paris after a mission entrusted by Napoleon III, during the restoration of the Empire. He will leave on the death of great historical and architectural footprints.

Today his legacy on this particular property can be seen looking at the buildings that have survived him, these initials carved in stone or equestrian history of the property are still valid. Spurred on by the current owner Laurent Cisneros, Château de Rouillac has undergone a complete restoration from the buildings, to the wine all through the vineyard.

Where does the name of Château de Rouillac comes from ?

The name comes from Rouillac rust. It is explained by the fact that “Bourde stream“, which is a small tributary of the Garonne which flow ferruginous water (iron in the ground) with a rust color through the property. The romans already exploted this land because they use to say “earth iron wine land“.

Focus on Laurent Cisneros, owner of Château de Rouillac

Great-grandson of a spanish winemaker and son of parents who came to France to escape the war in Spain, Laurent Cisneros was born in Bordeaux but very soon he moved to Angoulême. During the first twenty years of his life sports occupied most of his time. Young soccer player high level (L2) to twenty years he combined sport and study and was destined for a career in football. With 23 years and with aborted career opportunities he said that this way should not be the life he wanted and therefore decided to return to work in Angoulême with its artisan father heating. During his involvement in the family business his first passion for sports did not go away completely as he played for several years in the National league with the football club of Angoulême. When he was 25 years old he found himself physically and mentally switch and therefore decided to invest at 100% in the company. He resumed in 1999 the company his father had at the time an agency and a dozen employees. Eight years later, the family business had eight branches in France and more than 80 employees. Quarantine arriving he said he had to go see at the national level. That’s when he received a bid for a large European group. At the time he says not interested but after two months of reflection he said it was time to move on. So far his only link with the wine was deep feeling connected to his great-grandfather winemaker.

When I arrived at the property, January 15, 2010 I thought ‘well, how they make wine ? ‘. I first met the team in place that consisted of four people, make them aware and presented the project Rouillac imagined. I also immediately completed the team by hiring more people : a technical manager, two sales assistants, two vineyard workers, two cleaners and a responsible team.

I love the competition and resume this property was a great challenge because Rouillac was a sleeping beauty that has everything to mark its identity on the label : the wine, wine , history and architecture.

Rouillac is an attractive, captivating property. When you arrive at Rouillac you have to give your soul to the property. Rouillac requires a full engagement. If you don’t give it you can stay there and make good wines. For me it is the project of a lifetime.

Currently I set up an eco-integrated culture. This means, that I give my best for Château de Rouillac situated between the Landes and the city plays its role in society.” (Laurent Cisneros)

Respect for the people, societal aspect and respect for the environment are important in the current management of the property. Rouillac is also one of the most active properties in the appellation in Pessac-Léognan.

Man of passion he restored stables of the property to accommodate horses and reconciling the history of the property and riding is a true family passion. By visiting Rouillac you can also visit the stables and see the fifteen horses present with Titan, the workhorse of the vineyard.

Some of them have allowed Laurent Cisneros and his daughter Melanie to win national awards jumping.

Not forgetting his family legacy Laurent Cisneros and his family regularly visit Spain where his ancestors grew vines. Later he would also acquire vineyards to make wine there.

What allows us to recognize the wines of Château de Rouillac in blind taste ?

 “The wines of Château de Rouillac are recognized by their finesse, elegance local but also their proximity / accessibility. They are silky on the palate, accessible and show a great complexity but in the good sense that is to say, they are generous and they are pleasing wines.

Cuvée Baron Rouillac is more focused on Merlot grapes as well as Dada de Rouillac we wanted to make wine fun, fruity, drink young and can enjoy more easily, on all occasions.” (Laurent Cisneros)

To this I would allow myself to add a certain precision and delicacy of fruit supported by a delicate and harmonious married wooded distinguish the wines of Château de Rouillac from other wines.

The winetourism at Château de Rouillac 

Since 2010 Laurent Cisneros also launched ownership in the wine. The many services offered (visits, tasting, home seminar during tastings, cooking classes, wine & food pairings workshops, horse shows, horse carriage tour of the vineyard or 4×4 ride …) and environmental policy implementation have earned obtain a Best Of Wine Tourism in environmental practices in 2012 and another in 2014 in the category of wine tourism services. It also allowed him to get an International Best Of Wine Tourism in San Francisco in 2014. To learn more about the Best Of I invite you to read the articles on the Bordeaux Oscars 2014 ceremony or International Best Of Wine Tourism Awards.

The International Best Of Wine Tourism trophy awarded to Château de Rouillac in 2014.

Some features:

  • Soil: fine soils of gravel
  • Production: 140,000 bottles / year
  • Parcel Management
  • Sustainable Agriculture (plowing with a horse, no use of inputs, water retention ponds, water reprocessing, a commitment to high environmental value certification … )
  • Certified HVE (High Environmental Value) at the Level 3 of Grenelle Environment Forum
  • Certified AREA
  • Hand harvested in small crates
  • Range of wines: Château de Rouillac (white & red) AOC Pessac Léognan, Baron de Rouillac AOC Pessac Léognan, Dada de Rouillac (white & red) AOC Pessac Léognan
  • Using oak barrels for ageing some cuvées
  • Practice ageing on lees and stirring for the White wine of Château de Rouillac

Side anecdote :

Château de Rouillac is a property “with a beautiful soul“. Here many great personalities like Napoleon III have stayed. The Rouillac wine was also a favorite of the Emperor.

Side tasting : (March 2014)

  • Dada de RouillacPessac Léognan – 2011 (white): 40% Sauvignon Blanc, 10% Sauvignon Gris, 50% Semillon. Fun and aromatic wine with a fruity and flowery nose (white flowers). The palate is round, tasty, balanced, full-bodied, accurate, and expresses some mineral notes of citrus (lemon, grapefruit) associated with a pineapple note. The finish is long and fruity. Rating : 13.5/20

In pairings and wine I offer a recipe for clam chowder.

  • Château de RouillacPessac Léognan – 2011 (white): 80% Sauvignon Blanc, 18% Sauvignon Gris and 2% Semillon . Breeding of 12/13 months in barrels of wine on the lees with 50 % in French oak barrels and 50% in stainless steel tanks with regular stirring. A wine that is marked by the sauvignon. The nose is fruity (including citrus, lemon), floral, slightly woody and evokes typical Sauvignon notes (eucalyptus, lime). The palate is fresh, mineral, round, dynamic, slightly woody and expresses notes of citrus (lemon) and slightly more white fruits. Precision and elegance in the fruit. Pretty long and persistent finish. Rating : 15/20

A simply associate with a goat cheese or with Lemon Shrimp pasta.

  • Baron de RouillacPessac Léognan – 2010 (red): 76 % Merlot and 24 % Cabernet Sauvignon with a farm three months in oak barrels (1/3 new, 1/3 wine , 1/3 two wines) followed a farm six months in oak casks. The nose shows ripe fruit, strawberry, flowers and spices accompanied by slight hints of toast. The palate is fleshy, pleasant elegant and balanced. It reveals notes of cassis and blackberries associated some spices. Also well-integrated oak. Moderately long finish. Rating : 12.5/20

Enjoy it on a recipe for duck tournedos with mushroom and polenta.

  • Dada de RouillacPessac Léognan – 2011 (red): A ‘modern’ and fruity wine. It is composed of 51% Merlot, 49 % Cabernet Sauvignon and aged for 10 months in stainless steel tanks and wooden lightning. The nose shows notes of fresh fruit (cherry, blackberry, cassis), spices (especially pepper) and lighter wood. The palate is balanced with nice material and reveals notes of black fruit crisp (cherry, blackcurrant) associated with some lighter red fruit (especially cherry and raspberry) and woody/spicy taste. Pretty long finish. Rating : 14/20

A open along with a Roast leg of lamb.

  • Château de RouillacPessac Léognan – 2010 (red): 54 % Cabernet Sauvignon and 46% Merlot.16 ageing with 50 % new barrels months. An elegant deep wine, which is marked by the Cabernet. The nose is elegant and reveals fruity but also violet and spices. Also a small note to cook the nose. The palate is balanced, fleshy, round, mineral, dynamic, dense, fresh, with an attack on the red fruits that combine mid-palate with black fruits (especially blackberry) and some spice notes (including cocoa) and wood. The tannins are silky and well integrated. The finish is long. Rating : 15,5/20

I suggest you to accompany Quail Stuffed with Fresh Figs and Prosciutto.

Thanks to Laurent Cisneros for his friendly welcoming.

Jonathan Choukroun Chicheportiche 

Best Of Wine 2014 

Château de Rouillac

12 Chemin du 20 Août 1949

33610 Canéjan

+33 (0)5 57 12 84 63



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